Another week, another brewery re-branding itself. In the wake of Marble and Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca, Il Vicino Brewery will henceforth be known as the Canteen Brewhouse. This change will likely have less of a visual effect than things have been for those two breweries, since IV never did any package sales. So why the change to a 20-year-old brewery? Ask the brewer and thou shalt learn.
“The way that New Mexico is set up if you have a brewing license or a manufacturer’s license and you have a retail license, then you can’t have a distributing license,” Brady McKeown said. “So you can have two, but you can’t have three. So this does free us up to self-distribute, which doesn’t mean we’re making any more beer but it (makes us) more flexible. If somebody has a wedding and they want to buy it and they say we need it delivered here, OK, we can do that. Before it was like sorry, you can buy and it you have to take it over.”
Now what that ultimately could mean is that if Canteen expands its brewing operation (it will still supply the Il Vicino restaurants, more on that in a bit), then there is the possibility of future bottling/canning. For now, that sort of thing is on the back burner for Brady and his staff.
Essentially, not much will really change with the renaming. The brewery will just have some freedom from the restaurants, though for now it will be business as usual. All of the signage and merchandise, from glasses to T-shirts, will be changed out by the end of the year. Some things will arrive more quickly — think shirts first — and others will wait a while until the current inventory is sold — think growlers.
Brady first told us about this potential move last year, though we were asked to keep it private. A lot had to be sorted out with all of the various owners/investors of Il Vicino to determine who had a percentage of the different operations. Once that was all taken care of this year, the Canteen was able to make things official (though on a side note, technically all of their entries for Great American Beer Festival were listed under Canteen Brewhouse; Brady said their booth in Denver will have both forms of signage, “cross-branding,” he called it, to help folks understand what’s going on).
“This is also something that’s growing for them that they wanted for themselves,” Brady said. “Now they’re putting more into the brewery facility-wise. It took a long time for them to figure who had what.”
For now it’s just a matter of assuring everyone that none of the staff, and just as importantly none of the beers, are going to change.
“We’ve been around for so long we don’t want people to think it’s been sold and it’s going to change,” Brady said. “It’s not going to change because it’s the same thing.”
One small change that people will notice will be the names of the beers. For instance, if you go to Il Vicino in Nob Hill or up on Montgomery or over near Corrales, you will still see Slow Down Brown, Wet Mountain IPA, Dougie Style Amber, and so on up on the beer boards. However, the Canteen will have a new list of beers. Well, sort of.
“It will be the same beer (at the restaurant and brewery), just different names,” Brady said. “We just don’t have the capacity to brew two different IPAs or two different browns.”
In other words, the IPA you drink at the Canteen will still be Wet Mountain, but it will have a different name as required in the terms of separation. Brady said so far they haven’t come up with the new names for the beers at the Canteen, though with a staff as creative as his, he feels confident that they will have something better than a generic “Canteen IPA” or something of that sort.
“If somebody comes up with something good (we’ll use it),” Brady said.
I personally suggested McKeown Scotch Ale instead of Sasquatch, so we’ll see if they go with that.
In the end, this is a positive move. It will give the Canteen more freedom with the beer. Folks who enjoy the restaurants will still have their favorites on tap. Yet if the brewery wants to consider bottling/canning down the line, it now has the freedom to do so under state law.
This also gives you, dear reader, an excuse to go out and buy new merch. Your spouse/significant other will totally understand. (Of course, I’m single, so you might not want to take relationship advice from me.)
Good luck to the Canteen Brewhouse at GABF this week.